If you have not read the book Because of Winn Dixie you should. It is the most inspirational book for kids as well as adults. There are many life lessons that the author Kate DiCamillo wove into the story that is told by a the character Opal, a ten year old girl whose mother left when she was only three years old. The first year I read it to my 3rd graders was only a year after I lost my son. The book helped me to deal with my loss but also as I read the book I realized that many kids are going through some sort of a loss or hardship in their lives also. Each year the class discussions amaze me and I learn to appreciate who my students are.
This year I had a student make an analogy between the tree in the story and Opal the character. He explained that the tree was growing stronger as each branch grew on the tree just like Opal was growing stronger each time that she met a new friend so she felt less lonely.
In this story, Opal makes friends that are young, old and even a dog. This strikes up great discussions about how your friends can come in unsuspecting places and times in your life. You have to be willing to let them into your life because they could be the support that you may need.
I will leave you with a quote from this book: "I looked around the room at all the different faces, and I felt my heart swell up inside me with pure happiness."